Wednesday, September 01, 2010

The pulse of nostalgia

Christopher Hitchens wrote of the Tea Party & Glenn Beck's followers, one "can feel sympathy with the pulse of nostalgia."

I do.   But nostalgia is a sentiment, not a value. Also, "restoring honor" & "traditional American values" are not solutions. I love tradition.  But the value of tradition is  that as a guardian of values it is perhaps the most adaptable of values, & makes no distinction  between the values it guards, good or bad. Tradition serves any purpose it is made to serve. Traditions  change. We've had plenty of lousy "traditional American values" as well as good ones.

As for "restoring honor," exactly what is that "honor," when did we lose it, & how do we get it back? By waving the flag & having more wars?

The most puzzling & frightening of Beck's "solutions" is "returning to God." There's never been a consensus on what that means. Humans kill each other over it. I heard Thomas Friedman on the radio the other day saying that we made the error two decades ago of getting involved in a battle between the Saudi Islamic far right & the Saudi Islamic far far right. The Saudi far far right insists that its values are the Islamic values.  I wish some of the wiser folks over on the Tea Party side would notice it & not make the same kinds of claims. We're already the most believing, the most churchy of western nations.  If everyone in America went to church (or synagogue, temple, or mosque), we'd still have a thousand points-of-view & differences  on what are acceptable behaviors & lifestyles. We'd still have a left & a right, Democrats & Republicans & independents & undecideds & don't care one way or the other.

Why isn't the Tea Party screaming for ethical corporate behavior? Why is it just guvmint & maybe the unions at fault? Is it wrong to call the private sector to account? What evidence is there that big business & the super-rich look  out for the best interests  of ordinary Americans? Why do they get a bye? If you're assaulting the Fortress of Power, at least understand who's in it. How can you attack it while simultaneously defending it? Why is Beck's God the protecting  divinity of the Fortress? How was America more godly when we had slavery & were committing genocide on Indians? How was America more "Christian" when workers had no rights or protections, children labored in coal mines & sweatshops, & rivers were open sewers?

You're free to believe  God is more offended by taxes & a failure to pay lip service with public prayer than by war & injustice.

I can imagine myself  in the crowd at last Sunday's rally; a white guy raised in a two parent Republican, non-religious mainline Christian family, anxious about America's changing demographics, losing "traditions"  I knew & loved that served as a psychic safety net.  But, you see, the America for which I feel nostalgic mostly disappeared in the Sixties, not under the weight of Great Society programs, which I easily connected to Franklin Roosevelt, but because America split down the middle over Vietnam, left against right, older  against younger, & the culture shifted. People bought air-conditioners & no longer sat on front porches on summer evenings, & they bought clothes dryers & laundry stopped flapping on lines in backyards, &  cheap Japanese cars began appearing on roads, & factories started shutting down, & the suburbs became streets without shady trees, sidewalks, & corner stores.    If I had my way, we would've taken Dr. King's Dream, & the civil rights legislation,  & marched black & white together, hand in hand, back into the Fifties, & done that decade over.

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Well put. I've been trying to write a post that expresses what you just did, but my anger, depression, malaise and other attitudes just get in the way of a coherent post. There's just way too much crap, bad crap, going on, and this "divide" is ripping America and Americans to shreds. Nothing good is coming in the near future, and it's hard to play the game anymore when your assailed from all sides by liars.
I find it odd when Beck and his supporters talk about "returning to God" they never bring up returning to God and abandoning the materialistic, consumeristic culture that we all seem to be soaking in regardless of the "great recession."
WWII = Build to beat the Axis.

Iraq War = Shop to defeat terrorists.
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